Thousands participate in 'Day of Liberation and Rescue' rallies

Thousands around the world join rallies of prayer and thanksgiving to mark 73 years since liberation of European Jewry from the Nazis.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Central prayer rally at the Western Wall
Central prayer rally at the Western Wall
Eli Itkin

The Day of Liberation and Rescue, marking the liberation of European Jewry from the hands of the Nazis, takes place each year on 26 Iyar. This year, it marked seventy-three years from the final rescue of the survivors and was devoted in memory of the victims of the Holocaust for the fifth time in Israel and abroad. Thousands of people, including hundreds of children, participated in dozens of prayer rallies in synagogues, memorial sites and schools throughout the world. Places included Rome, Italy; Frankfurt and Leipzig, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Warsaw, Poland; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Budapest, Hungary; Amsterdam; London; Moscow; Georgetown, New York; Pinsk, Belarus; Kiev, Ukraine; and Sydney, Australia. The ceremonies were participated by chief rabbis, community leaders, defense ministers, military attachés of the Allied Forces, and survivors. For the first time, a prayer rally took place in the synagogue in Guangzhou, China. In Israel, prayer rallies took place in synagogues in Haifa, Migdal Ha’emek, Afula, Netanya, Hadera, Holon, Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Ganei Tikvah, and Modi’in.

As usual, the Day of Liberation and Rescue opened with a prayer rally at the Kotel with the participation of the Rishon Letzion and President of the Grand Beit Din, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, and President of the Conference of European Rabbis and Rabbi of Moscow Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, who both gave moving addresses. Three days after the Knesset passed the bill submitted by the Chairman of the Shas faction, MK Rabbi Yoav Ben Zur, to mark the Day of Liberation and Rescue with prayers and thanksgiving at the Kotel, hundreds of people, including members of the Zilberman Kollel of the Old City and rabbis and Torah scholars from all over the country, participated in the special prayer rally. The participants prayed and offered praises and thanks to God for saving the Jewish nation from its enemies.

The rally began with a recitation of Psalms led by the rabbi of the Caucasus community, Rabbi Yaniv Naftaliev, MK Rabbi Yoav Ben Zur, Rabbi Yosef Beckerman – a rabbi at the Chechnov Institutions, and Rabbi Shimon Levine. The ceremony ended with a Yizkor prayer led by world-renowned cantor Rabbi David Weinbach, and Kaddish recited by the Rishon Letzion, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, followed by the crowd’s emotional singing, “Vetechezena eineinu beshuvcha leTzion – May our eyes merit to see Your return to Zion.”

Hundreds joined the prayer rally in the Grand Synagogue in Moscow, as well. The guest of honor from Israel, Chief Rabbi of Israel and President of the Rabbinical Council Rabbi David Lau, gave a stirring address on the tremendous virtue of the originator of this initiative, Mr. German (Gavriel) Zakharyayev: “Your name will be inscribed in the golden chronicles of the Jewish nation,” he said to the sound of clapping. A student of the Reshit Chochma School read a chapter of Mishnayot, greatly moving the audience. Hundreds of participants, among them the Israeli Ambassador in Russia Mr. Gary Koren, representatives of the President’s Office, Holocaust survivors, veteran fighters, public figures and community members recited the Psalms and the cantor, Rabbi Yaakov Bar, sang the Kel Male Rachamim prayer. Prior to the rally, Rabbi David Lau gave a Torah lecture in the Torat Chayim yeshivah headed by Rabbi Moshe Lebel on the outskirts of Moscow.

This initiative to mark the Day of Liberation and Rescue is led by philanthropist German Zakharyayev, Vice President of the Russian Jewish Congress, who devotes much of his time and energy to mark and commemorate the rescue of the remaining European Jews from the horrific Holocaust. “I will continue to do everything I can to implant within the Jewish communities this important idea, to thank God and praise Him and remember His messengers…through prayer, charity, writing new Torah scrolls and studying Mishnayot in the ways that have been passed down to us from generation to generation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent letters to Mr. Zakharyayev, the community leaders and war veterans who had fought against the Nazis, blessing his initiative and the commemoration of the victims, among them soldiers of the Red Army, “who wrote chapters of incredible heroism in the fateful battle,” and their tremendous contribution to the liberation of the Jews from the death camps and their rescue from complete annihilation. The Prime Minister praised the bill passed by the Knesset, “which serves as a clear testimony to the importance that we attribute to the topic,” and wished them continued success in their important work.